“Girl I am so proud in everything you’re doing! From your hip dysplasia, to graduating college, and your career!” my best friend tells me as we’re waiting for our coffee. “Yea, it’s kind of crazy honestly”, I responded. “How so?”, she asked. I responded, “Growing up, I have had medical professionals giving my family and I such a pessimistic outlook on my quality of life with my hip dysplasia, because how unique my hip dysplasia is. Look at me now, being to be able to have a full-time job that requires a lot of physical activity, working out five to six times a week, hiking! I can go to Disneyland or concert festivals without a wheelchair! This is huge for me!” My friend responded back, “it should be huge for you! Everything you have taken on from last year to when you were a toddler was for these moments!”
On February of 1997, I was diagnosed with bilateral congenital hip dysplasia. My parents were finally relieved, or so they thought, that after countless tests, x-rays, and doctor’s visits for the past three years, that their three-year-old daughter will finally get the proper care she needs for her hips. I received my first, of many surgeries, on March 1997. The first procedure that was done on me was an adductor tenotomy and lengthening of the left hip because my left leg was ¾ of an inch shorter than my right leg. They also did an open reduction with internal fixation of the left hip and a Spica cast after surgery. In four weeks, I had to go back into surgery for my right hip. My second surgery was an open abductor tenotomy of the right hip, an open reduction of the right hip, a Varus rotational osteotomy on the right femur with semi tubular plates, and a Spica cast after surgery. From my first two surgeries, there was a complication. I had to receive a prescription for braces to help with my legs externally rotating out. My third surgery done in January of 1998 consisted of removing the medical hardware from my right hip, remove hardware from my left hip, and do a de-rotation osteotomy on my left hip because my left leg was still externally rotating. On April 1998 I was prescribed to a ½ inch shoe lift because my left leg got even shorter after my third surgery. My fourth and fifth surgery had to happen because of a complication. On July of 1998, my left hip dislocated, one of the screws from my derotation osteotomy broke and the deformity on my left hip increased. On September of 1998, I received my fourth surgery where the removed the left hip hardware and a vagus osteotomy of the left hip was done and I was in a Spica cast after surgery. My fifth surgery was done on December of 1999 where they removed the hardware from my left hip. From there, my surgeon for all five surgeries suggested for me to see another surgeon who specializes in hip replacements for patients like me because I will most likely be needing one, especially for my left hip.
We found a surgeon, but we pushed off a hip replacement because I was too young to have one. I kept dealing with the pain on and off for years, from going to multiple physical therapy sessions, getting prescribed multiple pain meds, being in and out of a wheelchair and crutches, and trying different types of holistic supplements to ease the pain and discomfort, but it wasn’t enough. I developed scoliosis because of my hip dysplasia and caused me to have a limp along with a leg length discrepancy. As I got older and went through puberty, I was in constant pain and discomfort. That pain level that the doctor’s ask you from 0 to 10, 0 being no pain and 10 being the most, I was never at a zero, one, two, or even a three. In all honesty, I felt uncomfortable in my own body, never felt good enough and I was beginning to not like, sometimes despised, being born with hip dysplasia. I developed a pessimistic attitude towards myself and others because of my hip dysplasia. Around high school I started to fight and hide the pain because I thought if I didn’t “need” the pain medications or the wheelchair, then I am okay and will feel and look “normal.” It wasn’t until I was 18 years old living in San Francisco going to San Francisco State University; my dream school. I was having so much pain on my hips that I fainted. I went to go see my orthopedic doctor to — as always– talk about the possibility of having a hip replacement. This time though, I decided to go through with it. After that incident, I kept thinking that there has to be something better than this. So, I decided to take on a total hip replacement on my left hip and partial reconstruction of my pelvis at 19 years old. The surgery was the easy part, the recovery was a nightmare…literally. I had nightmares for good while after this surgery. In addition to my nightmares, the muscle and nerve spasms, being told that I have to walk the day after surgery, having to lie in bed with a cushion between your legs for weeks, the list goes on, it was all hard, but it was all worth it. That huge lift I had in all my left shoes went drastically smaller that I can put it inside my left shoes and my limp has reduced as well, but I still wasn’t out of the woods.
Around a year or two after my hip replacement, my right hip was starting to have complications. That constant pain and discomfort that I was feeling on my left hip was now happening to my right hip. I was going back to physical therapy and taking pain meds for my right hip. Around the time I turned 21, I had to stop seeing my orthopedic doctors due to health insurance and my age. So, my family and I were back to square one in looking for the right doctor to help with my hip dysplasia. I met a new orthopedic surgeon. He suggested that a periacetabular osteotomy (PAO) would be the best thing for my right hip and it pushes off a hip replacement until I am much older. I said yes right away, but I was much more nervous for this surgery because I was not sure how my left hip was going to handle holding my weight while I am recovering from surgery since my left hip has always been the weak one. At 23 years old, I took the PAO, the surgery was a success, the recovery was hard on me mentally, but I was ahead of schedule in recovery and my hips never looked better and so bionically cool.
Now, I am 25 years old going on to 26, cleared to do any physical activity I am pleased to do. I work in a job that requires a lot of running, sudden movements, and lifting up to fifty pounds. I work out at least twice a day. I do yoga, hiking, swimming, and so much more. I’ve decided to get a personal trainer at a gym near my home and it has been the best decision I have ever done. My personal trainer specializes in rehabilitation and she has helped me through so much. I still have a lot of work to do since my hips have been weak for a very long time, but I am determined and hopeful. Despite these obstacles I have had throughout my life, I still tried my best to live my life as I normally can. I still went to college, I graduated from CSUF with a degree in psychology along with two AAs all during my last three surgeries. My goal right now is to become a child life specialist and to spread awareness about hip dysplasia. Despite the complications I have had as a kid, the mental trauma I had from the surgeries and in myself, as well as the pain I had to deal with, I do not regret it all. I have grown and learned so much with what I was born with. Most importantly, I would not be where I am at without my family’s support. My parents never gave up on my checkups, my physical therapist sessions, constantly getting multiple opinions from surgeons, and making sure I was always accommodated. My older brother, always making sure I was included in any way possible and making sure I always had a laugh during my recoveries. There’s also many aunts, uncles, and cousins that have supported me and comfort me during my recoveries. My friends for always helping me out in any way possible. I decided to write my story because I felt mentally okay to talk about who I am and part of that is my hip dysplasia. I believe I had to go through all of these obstacles to be where I am at to this day. I have a favorite quote, I do not remember where I have found it but it is, “With pain comes strength;” I believe we need to have a little bit of pain to help us grow and strive in life. I hope that with my story I can help someone out there, with or without hip dysplasia, and they can be motivated enough to go through those tough obstacles and succeed in life.